Title: Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2
Developer: Inti Creates
Release Date: January 28, 2022
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Inti Creates
Genre: 2D Action
Following the 2019 release of Luminous Avenger iX, I wasn’t expecting a sequel to emerge within this spin-off series. However, developer Inti Creates has different plans for this anti-hero Copen. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2 is a direct sequel to the original, but it still serves as a standalone release. Surprisingly, this isn’t the same song and dance that fans expect from the series. While Copen is still as quick on the battlefield as he’s always been, there’s a significant focus on melee combat and skill usage that makes this adventure unique.
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2 has a rather engaging story. While the general plot isn’t anything to write home about, the evolution of the situation will hold your attention. After the first game’s events, Copen is deep in research studying a Blaster Rifle when a portal opens up and sucks him into another universe. This is where Copen meets an android named Null, who joins his small crew to return home. The entire mission has Copen ascend a tower, fight bosses, and uncover more than he probably imagined. Like previous Gunvolt titles, there are plenty of twists sprinkled throughout, but new players can easily enjoy the story.
One exciting aspect of this entry is that it features an English dub for the characters. As a result, players can enjoy some emotional story beats with actual voiced lines. I thought the delivery was impactful and made the story easier to follow. Further, the menu that appears when selecting a mission is now narrated by one of your cute companions, who will say random things while you make your selection.
Let’s be honest, though. Most of us are here for the action, and Luminous Avenger iX 2 definitely shakes things up a bit. While Copen retains some of his previous actions, this entry is more melee-based as players can unleash a three-hit combo using his new Razor Wheel weapon. This focus on stationary action is unique for a character who typically doesn’t like staying on the ground for too long, but it opens up new ways to enjoy combat. Copen does retain a dash that can tag enemies when used in the air. This allows players to unleash homing blades while the target is active. Using these basic combat mechanics effectively throughout the stages is needed for a high score.
However, there’s plenty more under the hood. Lola can now sing and heal Copen whenever a player desires, but getting hit is not something you want to do at it will reset your multiplier. This is needed to access Lola’s Idol Mode so players can quickly dash and tag enemies while some awesome music plays in the background. Further, currency found from fallen enemies, and clearing stages can be used to purchase additional upgrades for Copen. This is where replayability comes in handy with new actions such as hyper guard, a longer target timer, and even upgrade’s to Lola can be purchased.
If that wasn’t enough, each defeated boss provides an additional weapon. Compared to the previous entry, I found these weapons to be beneficial in combat and when navigating stages. They can each be used in clever ways and have varying use cases. At one point, a handful of stages open up to you, which could be made easier if you have the proper weapon. Likewise, some bosses can be made easy work of if you have a specific ability equipped.
There’s also a quick-select option to equip up to four skills to the right analog stick. I found all the bosses to be incredibly charming, even though their time on screen is brief. I would personally love a Bomber-Man-style mini-game featuring all the boss characters from the Gunvolt series because they are all just so creative and fun.
Stage design offers nothing too surprising in terms of themes. However, there is a really cool ice level that I thought was fun. For as straightforward as these themes were, though, the stages themselves offer a lot in terms of interaction. Players can use various abilities to access shortcuts or hidden collectibles. If you want to get everything, you’ll need to have each ability, so each level pretty much begs to be replayed.
Similar to the first game, Luminous Avenger iX 2 is relatively short and maybe can be completed in over 2 hours, depending on how good you are at the genre. However, that doesn’t limit it from the amount of content offered. There’s plenty to do here and even unlock. Still, I found that the added heal system made the game far too easy my first time through. I just relied on it too much, but this is a game of speed and high scores, so my following playthroughs used it less and less.
Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2 continues to deliver the 2D platforming action that players demand. The new focus on melee combat coupled with ariel dashes breaths new life into Copen’s growing arsenal. Further, I thought the narrative, characters, and bosses made this entry just as endearing as the previous, and the interaction with the environments made each stage fun to explore. I can’t wait to go on future adventures with Copen and friends.
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